Change in the industry is a result of two innovation movements: Alfred Zollar

In the printing industry, there has been more change happening over just the last few years than what we’ve seen in a couple of decades, according to IBM senior executive Alfred Zollar.

In a fireside chat with EFI chief financial officer Marc Olin at EFI Connect, Zollar said there are two reasons causing this industry change.

“We can point to things like 5G or blockchain but change is a result of two movements – the first is the open source movement because it has unleashed a piece of innovation that we have never seen before,” he said.

“At that time, we had no idea that major innovations driven by main scale cloud providers and social media platforms would all be based on open source software.

“The second one would be the pervasiveness of compute networking and storage capabilities such that almost any piece of equipment is a communicating computer. The opportunities that it creates have changed the experiences of our customers.”

Zollar is part of the executive partner team at Siris Capital and helped structure the mid-2019 private equity acquisition of EFI by a Siris affiliate. Prior to working with Siris was when he had a 34-year career in IBM’s enterprise software business in information management, application development, networking, operating systems, and security.

Drawing on his experience leading IBM’s multi-billion dollar Tivoli Software infrastructure management technology, IBM Lotus software, and other business-critical enterprise applications, Zollar outlined future trends and strategies for success for print professionals in the next era of IT.

“What I learnt from my time at IBM is being able to flip from an inside-out thinking model to one that is outside-in. This involves being able to innovate and co-create with customers, as well as understanding markets and technology trends,” he mentioned.

“In today’s world we are presented opportunities with technology to dramatically alter the experience that we have with customers. What should be driving this is trying to simplify the experience of people or taking their considerations for your products.

“So, with the technologies that we have today, be it mobile devices or the ability to simplify workflows, these technologies are critical in simplifying the customer experience which in turn means that you can endeavour to simplify your customer’s experience every day.”

Zollar mentioned that there will always be a role for proprietary software models of development, and that is around applications.

“At the stack, the kind of value that they can deliver to customers is second to none, but in order for us to accelerate the pace of it, we have to constantly focus on modernising these capabilities and evolving the radius of these technologies,” he stated.

“We have to continually be in a position to be able to take advantage of the cloud, so there needs to be an agenda of moving on a roadmap towards the most modern architectures that we have today.

“This also enables a business to extend its geographical reach. We have to think of a way to extend into those markets and do it in a way that fits with the overall direction of the business.”

In conclusion, Zollar advised that businesses should be focusing on their customers’ successes.

“The best thing you can do for your customers is understand their customers and then try and create solutions that bring them closer to their customers. The capabilities that we now have to change or augment customer experience is huge, so you should shoot for superior at all times,” he said.

“That should be one of your goals and where you direct your resources towards.”


Sprinter travelled to Connect in Las Vegas as a guest of EFI. 

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